Skip to main content

LIU magazine salutes Ratner as a "mensch and master builder." Which is probably not what Skanska would call him.

Renaissance Developer, declares the Long Island University magazine, subtitled "As Bruce Ratner (H’13) rebuilds the city he loves, the revitalization radiates to LIU Brooklyn, our students, and the communities we serve."

It begins with a notable, and wrongheaded cliche:
The beloved Beatles song “Hey, Jude” implores the title character to take a sad song and make it better. Imagine Brooklyn as the sad song; the one-time hive of opportunity for new immigrants and lifeblood of the city’s family-run business and retailing prowess nosedived into deterioration and disrepute in the shadow of the mighty metropolis across the river. But over the last decade the tune has been rewritten and given a modern beat, making it a sad song no longer. The maestro is Bruce C. Ratner, a visionary force behind the skyline-changing, landscape-shifting renaissance in Downtown Brooklyn.
Somehow the decades of residential revitalization, including a series of historic districts. escaped notice.

The article continues:
For those outside of the Brooklyn purview, Ratner is executive chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies, one of the foremost urban real estate development companies in the country and the force behind several major Brooklyn projects, including MetroTech Center and the Atlantic Yards redevelopment. Ratner is also majority owner and developer of Barclays Center and was integral to bringing the Nets to Brooklyn. They are the first major league sports team to call Brooklyn home in over half a century and help draw millions of fans to the distinctive entertainment mecca and surrounding businesses. In 2013, Barclays was the top-grossing venue in the United States. The arena employs more than 2,000 people, 80 percent of whom are Brooklyn residents. Big brands, hip boutique restaurants, and high-end retailers have popped up in the arena’s radius, spawning thousands more jobs and billions in tax revenue for the city.
Billions in tax revenue? Puh-leese. And not from those part-time arena jobs, either.

The article continues:
From the perspective of LIU Brooklyn—in the heart of the borough’s cultural district, just a few blocks north of Barclays Center, across from Brooklyn landmark Junior’s Cheesecake and the newly revamped retail thoroughfare, the Fulton Mall—Ratner’s influence as the lead instrument advancing the bold development of Downtown Brooklyn is evident in the myriad of institutions and industries that have cropped up and become invigorated by the influx of people, businesses, art, initiatives, and housing taking hold in the revitalized neighborhood. Recently, the New York State Comptroller’s office reported that the number of jobs in Brooklyn is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the boroughs, with Downtown Brooklyn as the hotbed, hosting 17 percent of new jobs.
And that's attributable mainly to Ratner?

The article continues:
Former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz credits Ratner with creating the most exciting chapter in Brooklyn’s history. “One could argue that midtown is the center of the city, but Bruce has created another center with Barclays and Atlantic Yards. Bruce Ratner recognized in Brooklyn’s future what others who were born and bred there overlooked.”
We wouldn't expect anything less from Markowitz, would we?

The article continues:
In June 2013, LIU conferred an honorary degree on Ratner, acknowledging the significant role he played in breathing new life into the Brooklyn campus. At the 2014 LIU Gala, LIU President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, the Board of Trustees, and the entire LIU community honored Ratner for his ongoing contributions to the university. Beginning with the development of MetroTech Center, an 11-building “urban office campus” that sits on a three acres of prime Downtown Brooklyn real estate just a few minutes from LIU Brooklyn, Ratner has enabled an economic boom, creating countless opportunities near the campus for student internships, experiential learning opportunities, and ultimately full-time employment.
The rest of the article is below. No mention of tax breaks, or the cozy situation in which LIU shilled for Atlantic Yards and later got the opportunity to play basketball at the Barclays Center. (When LIU plays at the Barclays Center it can be quite empty.)

In the final paragraph of the article, Provost Gale Stevens Haynes calls Ratner a "mensch and master builder." How do we square that an affidavit from Skanksa's Richard Kennedy that details an increasingly contentious relationship between that firm and Forest City Ratner:
For example, at a meeting on January 28, 2014 when William Flemming, the President of Skanska Building, mentioned that design issues existed, Bruce Ratner's response was to use a vulgar street epithet followed by "I don't care if it costs you fifty million to finish the project ... I'll see you at the grand opening." 





Comments

  1. Anonymous8:28 AM

    I just cannot believe how prolific you are and on top of these issues, thank you. And also I cannot believe that Markowitz is taken seriously by anyone!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.